STOCKTON, Calif. – Alex Spanos, who used his fortune from construction and real estate to buy the Chargers in 1984, has died. He was 95.
The team announced in 2008 that Spanos was suffering from dementia. He eventually stopped attending games.
The son of Greek immigrants, Spanos was a self-made millionaire. He bought controlling interest in the team for approximately $50 million from Gene Klein in 1984. He eventually bought all but the 3 percent that was held by George Pernicano.
Although Spanos continued to live in Stockton after purchasing the Chargers, his oldest son, Dean, moved to San Diego to help run the team.
It was Dean Spanos who decided to move the Chargers from San Diego, their home of 56 years, to Los Angeles in 2017.
After then-general manager Bobby Beathard nearly resigned following the 1993 season due to a feud over signing bonuses for free agents, Alex Spanos put Dean in charge of day-to-day operations of the team. With Beathard remaining, the Chargers made their only Super Bowl appearance, a 49-26 loss to San Francisco in January 1995.
After failing for years to get a new stadium to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium, the Chargers moved to Los Angeles, relocating to a soccer stadium in suburban Carson. They will share a state-of-the-art facility in Inglewood with the Rams once it is completed.
It was Alex Spanos who first raised the topic of a new stadium in 2000, just three years after the city expanded Qualcomm by 10,000 seats for the Chargers, touting it as being Super Bowl-quality. The stadium hosted Super Bowls in 1998 and 2003, but the city fell behind on maintenance and it fell out of the Super Bowl rotation.
Alex Spanos wasn’t held in warm regard by many San Diego fans and was booed during a halftime ceremony to retire Hall of Famer Dan Fouts’ No. 14 in 1988. After that, Alex Spanos didn’t participate in similar ceremonies.
He was an avid golfer and counted among his friends Bob Hope and Gerald Ford. Hope sometimes attended Chargers home games, sitting in Spanos’ box.
During his third season of ownership, Spanos fired legendary coach Don Coryell after the Chargers started 1-7 in 1986. It took nine seasons for the Chargers to make their first playoff appearance under Spanos’ ownership, in 1992.
Spanos took an unlikely road to NFL ownership. After working in his father’s bakery in Stockton, Spanos borrowed $800 from a banker to buy a truck from which he sold sandwiches to migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley. He began investing in real estate and started a construction company that mostly built apartment buildings.
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